quinoa, tomato, & herb salad with lemon vinaigrette

(vegan and gluten free)

If casseroles are my favorite cold weather food, herby salads and relishes are my favorite warm weather food.  I love how this type of salad keeps for days and is a complete meal on.  Last week I went to a Persian grocery store and bought some Bulgarian sheep’s milk cheese with plans to put it into this salad.  I tasted it and decided definitely not.  I love feta, cotija, and all those crumbly salty cheeses (actually most cheeses, period).  This, though, was a little too tangy.  If you want to add cheese, I’d recommend feta or some fried paneer or halloumi. 

53037983_885026955169275_4183115206466994176_nThis salad can be made 12 hours in advance, and will last about 3 days before it starts to lose it freshness.  I’ve been following the food blogger, Heather Christo, for about 3 years, and these pictures were inspired by her photography style.  She loves using old sheet pans instead of platters, and is always very herb-and-edible-flower forward.  I recently bought her cookbook, “Pure Delicious.”  Every recipe in her book is allergen-free, but kept simple.  Since I eat so much junk on a regular basis now, it makes me feel better to cook like this when I start feeling creative. 

Don’t ignore the freshness of these ingredients.  Because it’s so simple, only use the freshest produce.  If the herbs don’t look fresh, substitute in basil or chives.  Same with the tomatoes and cucumber; you can use fresh zucchini or chopped sweet peppers if they look fresher.  This whole thing comes together in about 45 minutes, if you count the time to cook the quinoa.  Here’s how I did it:

 

Total Time:  20 minutes (plus cook time for the quinoa)

Serves:  8-10

Difficulty Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

1 recipe Perfectly Cooked Quinoa, at room temperature

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

½ seedless cucumber, medium diced

1 14-ounce can of hearts of palm (about 6), slice into ¼ inch rounds

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 shallot, minced

½ cup of freshly chopped parsley

2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill

2 tablespoons freshly chopped mint

1 recipe of agave lemon vinaigrette (recipe follows)

 

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. Toss gently, and serve cold or at room temperature.

 

 

Agave Lemon Vinaigrette

Total Time:  5 minutes

Yield:  About 1 cup

Difficulty Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s similar brand)

2 lemons, zested and juiced

2 tablespoons agave nectar

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

 

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in a mason jar.
  2. Seal and shake vigorously to combine.
  3. Dressing can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.